Wednesday, December 4, 2013

…nothing now remains: ICE DRAGON – ‘Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvest’

It’s become exhaustive conjuring forth adjectives and explanations describing how Ice Dragon pretty much do whatever the fuck they want. Under a handful of monikers Ron, Carter, Joe, and recent addition Brad have covered Sabbathian doom, Cthulhu-inspired drone-terror, dream pop, and with this year’s masterful ‘Born a Heavy Morning’ AM radio influenced tunes that transcend the source material simply by being channeled through the subconscious collective that is Ice Dragon. Despite the occasional curveball Ice Dragon have yet to make a weak album. Though 2013 hasn’t been quite as productive as 2012, the band has released some of its trippiest, most far-out material and, as Tentacle, some of the most sinister and acerbic. With 2013 coming to an end Ice Dragon have unexpectedly unleashed ‘Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvest’, two tunes that delve into the doomier side of the band. For those who have missed the doomed-out heft and crawl of ‘The Burl, the Earth, the Aether’, ‘The Sorrowful Sun’, or ‘Tome of the Future Ancients’—prepare to rock-the-fuck-out.

It’s clear from the first few notes of the opening bassline that “Steel Veins” is going to be something special. After the brief bass intro signifying nothing short of impending doom the guitars come crashing in for a wholly enjoyable experience. The guys still have it. “Steel Veins” has everything that made early Ice Dragon releases so great—crawling mid-tempo guitar crunch, simple yet ominous Mark Adams’ styled basslines, and Ron’s ability to pair his vocals with virtually any type of cacophony the band is creating. On the flip-side, “Queen of the Black Harvest” trades in a bit of the guitar crunch for a stoner-doom groove that is embellished with moments of crashing percussive noise, backwards winding tape abuse, and a return to the darker, fantasy inspired lyrics that would have been right at home amongst the tracks of ‘Tome of the Future Ancients’.

One of the most impressive aspects of Ice Dragon is that they are not afraid to experiment or push their creative boundaries. The band is able to draw from a variety of influences and styles in order to create something new without resulting in mere pastiche. And they do it well. The only significant thread throughout the band’s discography is a heavy dose of psychedelia and ‘Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvest’ is no exception.  Even though Ice Dragon has released a fair amount of material that could be considered doom, it had looked as if the heavier side of the band would be forever relegated to output from Tentacle. Again, Ice Dragon has thrown another curveball with “Steel Veins” and “Queen of the Black Harvest”—a Hell-of-a-way to close out the year. Highly recommended…

Words: Steve Miller

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